Jewish cemetery in Poland desecrated

6 Nov 2009 by CST

Poland

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Unknown vandals defaced tombstones and spray-painted anti-Semitic and anti-Israel graffiti at the Jewish cemetery in the Polish seaside resort city of Sopot, near Gdansk.

Tombstones in seaside Polish city Sopot were vandalized during All Saints' Day.

Inscriptions such as "Israel = The Third Reich," "Free Palestine" and "Stop the Jewish domination" were among those scrawled on a number of graves as well as the wall surrounding the burial ground.

"This was a really bad incident," Michal Samet, president of the Gdansk Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post.

"Although the authorities reacted immediately, one could see anxiety among the members of our community," he said.

The defacement took place on Saturday, and was apparently timed to coincide with the eve of All Saints' Day, when people throughout Poland traditionally visit the graves of loved ones.

Local officials responded quickly to the incident, promising to do more to protect the cemetery, which is owned by the municipality. "We are terribly sorry this act of vandalism happened. Unfortunately, human stupidity cannot be helped," Sopot vice-mayor Pawel Orlowski told the Polish daily Gazeta, adding, "we apologize that this has happened."

The cemetery was established in 1913 and contains a monument to Jewish soldiers who died fighting in World War I. It served Sopot's small Jewish community until the Holocaust.

On the eve of World War II, 130 Jews lived in Sopot, approximately half of whom managed to survive the Nazi onslaught.

This marks the second time in recent months that a Jewish cemetery in the area has been vandalized.

In early September, unknown perpetrators spray-painted anti-Semitic slogans on the entrance to the cemetery in nearby Gdansk.
Police are investigating both incidents.


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“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights